A Thought Experiment, a Tasting, and an Array of Super Sparklers…

6/16/11 -

(Ernesto of Costadila gives a thumbs up to his healthy vines)

I love Champagne, a love that has taken a greater toll on my wallet than I’d care to admit. There is something singular about the quality of mineral character, bubble, and acid that is not replicable in other sparkling wines. On occasion, I’ve tried to assuage a desire for Champagne with a bottle of something else, and have found myself, one glass in, wanting Champagne all the more… Perhaps this is why it has historically been hard for me to hear sparkling wines that are not from the Champagne region referred to as “Champagnes.” Recently, I was forced to rethink my Champagne passion; a thought experiment conducted with a friend revealed the true irrationality of Champagne love: place one bottle of Selosse (estimated price $150) next to the number of bottles of another tasty sparkling wine (say Vignes du Mayne Crémant de Bourgogne, price $20) you could take home for the price of the single bottle of Selosse. Which would you pick, the single bottle of Selosse or the seven bottles of Crémant de Bourgogne? This turns out to be a nuanced question; the answer (namely that it depends on what you want) taps into the focus of this article. If you want Champagne, you’ll not be satisfied by anything else, but if you’re open to other sparkling wines, you’ll discover a plethora of delicious wines that are uniquely expressive and singular in their own right. The error is in viewing these wines as “Champagne alternatives,” which seems to fail to give them the respect they deserve. For the summer months, we have an array of fantastic Crémants, Spanish Cavas, Proseccos, Vouvray Bruts, and even red sparkling wines (!!!), all of which deserve your immediate attention. Allow us to highlight two naturally made Proseccos of which we are especially proud. Please read on for more information… —msb

Many of us hear “Prosecco” and instantly assume a tropically-fruited sparkling wine with little to no character.  Happily there are winemakers in the region that are not content producing wines that fit this mold.  They would rather tap their old vine plantings for the minerality contained deep in the hills of the northeast Veneto. Two wine makers who embody this spirit are Loris Follador of Casa Costa Piane, and Ernesto Cattel of Costadila. Loris is a true lover of wine, and his dining room is a Mecca for wine discussion, debate, and more than anything, enjoyment. He comes from a long line of farmers in Valdobbiadene, so he has the privilege of tending to vines at least 60 years old.  His vines are perched on steep soils of compacted clay and limestone, and overlook the flatlands that were once grazing land for cows, but are now planted with vines to quench the global thirst for Prosecco. Ernesto Cattel’s project at Costadila is perhaps even more ambitious. An apt comparison was made by Ernesto himself when he said: “Loris is a sculptor; I am a stonecutter.” Instead of the floral hints and citrus of Coste Piane, you’ll find compelling yeasty, stoniness. Ernesto is buying and renting prime plots in the eastern part of Prosecco from farmers who have been selling to larger producers. The vines are usually quite old, but sometimes the vineyard work has been sloppy. He is reviving these ancient plots and making wines that probably taste as Prosecco did at the time that they were planted. The numbers on his bottles refer to the elevation of the vineyard that the wine comes from. Two Proseccos that are well worth your attention. –jr

We will have many of these wines open from 4-7pm on Saturday, June 18th. Come along, bring your open mind, and we’ll give them a try!

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